VA Watchdog Organization
Hey, among all the things America is good at, making music and making war would be at the top of the list. And the City has combined the pair through an incentive called BurghSTOCK.
Our troops have been in every hot spot in the world, from the sands to the snow. And it's no secret some of them don't come back quite the same as when they left. The government often closes its eyes to the plight of many vets, homeless, often addicted, and without work after they've honorably served their tour. But BurghSTOCK hasn't forgotten them.
The cold, hard facts are that 30% of the homeless men in this country are military vets. There are reportedly over 2,500 in the Tri-State area alone, and those that assist them have waiting lists; the region has the 2nd highest percentage of homeless Vietnam era vets in the country. Ironically, some reportedly sleep under the Veteran's Bridge.
So on Veterans Day, 2008, BurghSTOCK was born of a conversation Mike Fornear had with Garth (The Band) and Maud Hudson, with Little Feat as its first draw. The concept is simple - raise a couple of bucks and get the loot to an organization that helps the homeless vets.
The group talks a band into scheduling a gig either for free or at a reduced rate. The act dedicates a cut of its fee, along with the fans' donations (they pass the hat or set up a booth at each show), to local non-profits that help homeless and disabled military veterans.
Last Tuesday, the New Riders of The Purple Sage made their second BurghSTOCK appearance at The Thunderbird Cafe; the idea has been embraced by national acts. Bands like the Little Feat (twice), Ekoostik Hookah (four times), Great American Taxi, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Donna Jean Godchaux & her band, and The Supersuckers (twice) have all played local gigs as part of BurghSTOCK, along with a handful of other performers.
Also, guys like Levon Helm (the Band), Doug Lubahn (bass player on many of the Doors records), and Bill Payne (Little Feat) have sent items for auction or door prize fodder. Payne is a respected photographer and donated a print of his work "A Sacred Calling" that raised quite a few bucks for the cause.
It's been supported by local acts, too; three dozen or so have taken part in BurghSTOCK shows, like 28 North, Steeltown, Psalter, and the Whiskey Outlaws. The area clubs have joined in the the campaign, and a couple of dozen have hosted events, among them Altar, Diesel, Mr. Smalls, the Thunderbird Cafe, and the Club Cafe.
The New Riders show was the 53rd time a band has taken the stage under the BurghSTOCK banner; that's a lot of acts.
Fornear (aka "BurghSTOCK Mike") is the frontman for the all-volunteer BurghSTOCK, and he's pushed a non-stop agenda. So far, it's a modest organization, raising over $13,000 in the past eighteen months. But they have bigger plans to up the ante.
BurghSTOCK will release a book "A Sacred Calling: Fifty Inspiring Profiles of American Military Veterans." Bill Couch of Roy's has given the organization an open stage once a month. Fornear is trying to reel in bigger local fish, like Norm Nardini, Todd Jones, and The Stickers, for future shows.
So hey, next time you see a band playing under the auspices of BurghSTOCK, stop by and enjoy some good sounds for a good cause. And bring an extra bill or two to stuff into the hat; after all, shouldn't every day be Veterans Day?
Little Feat - "Willing"